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Digital Marketing

29 Different Types of Marketing, Explained

June 18, 2021
September 22, 2021
Mae Rice

There are so many different kinds of marketing, it can feel overwhelming. What’s the difference between inbound and outbound marketing — or community marketing and local marketing? We have answers.

Table of Contents

The marketing industry has a lot of different ways to say “marketing.” 

Some view these terms as redundant buzzwords, meant to “create anxiety and reinvent the wheel,” as Everyone Hates Marketers host Louis Grenier put it in a LinkedIn post

If you coin a new term for something every marketing team already does, you can create FOMO from nothing — and rake in some consulting fees!

In some cases (cough, “agile marketing,” cough), that’s true.

But there actually are a lot of different types of marketing, and the right terminology can come in handy. It helps companies hire qualified candidates, and helps marketers describe their skill sets precisely.

As long as everyone has a shared understanding of what the terms mean, that is.

So, what do they mean? What’s the difference between inbound and outbound marketing — or community marketing and local marketing?

After consulting with MarketerHire’s in-house experts, we have answers.

Why are there so many marketing terms?

Before we get to the glossary, a word about why there are so many types of marketing. They’re not all synonyms — often, they’re disciplines and subdisciplines. 

Marketing spans many different industries and niches, and different types of marketing help businesses… 

  • Reach different target audiences: For instance, paid social media marketing — like Snapchat ads — can help you reach younger audiences in their leisure time, whereas local marketing — like billboards on a specific highway — can help you reach an all-ages, geofenced audience.
  • Move different types of products: For brands selling products under $50, TikTok ads can perform really well — but for products with higher price points and longer consideration cycles, like tractors, it might make sense to avoid TikTok and focus on trade shows.
  • Boost different KPIs: If a B2B business wants to land a specific number of new accounts and diversify their client base, account-based marketing (or ABM) makes sense — but to boost DTC revenues, a broader-brush paid digital and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is more likely to win.

A one-size-fits-all view of marketing isn’t going to get you far. Instead, strategists who know what they’re doing build custom marketing plans for each client that blend multiple types of marketing.

29 types of marketing, explained in one (1) glossary

To help everyone have more meaningful marketing conversations, we broke down some popular, frequently referenced types of marketing: what they mean, how they’re measured, what they look like in the wild, and what skills a marketer needs to do them well. 

A caveat: There will always be new channels emerging, new markets to tap, and new ways people talk about all of it. This isn’t guaranteed to cover everything. But if you’re talking to someone referencing tons of marketing disciplines outside this list, we officially cosign you saying “Huh?”

Let’s get started.

1. Traditional marketing.

  • Definition: Traditional marketing means using top-of-funnel, old school marketing channels — like print ads and linear TV — to drive awareness. If it appeared in Mad Men, it falls under the traditional marketing umbrella.
  • Also known as: out-of-home marketing campaigns, linear TV advertising, print media advertising.
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: CMO and brand marketer can pitch in here — but this isn’t any role’s specialty.
  • Common KPIs for this: impressions, earned media impressions and long-term revenue growth.
  • Example of this in action: Super Bowl ads — all of them!
  • Required to do this well: in-person media buying (as opposed to buying through a DSP); experience marketing for legacy companies.

2. Outbound marketing.

  • Definition: Outbound marketing means pushing your marketing messages out to people who haven’t yet shown strong interest in your product, usually through paid channels. Think of it as marketing that makes the first move. 
  • Also known as: paid digital, traditional marketing and top-of-funnel marketing.
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: paid social media marketer, paid search marketer and growth marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: cost per thousand views (CPM), cost per click (CPC), return on ad spend (ROAS), customer acquisition cost (CAC), and brand awareness.
  • Example of this in action: Halara’s ubiquitous TikTok ads.
  • Skills required to do this well: audience segmentation, revenue attribution.

3. Inbound marketing.

  • Definition: Inbound marketing means attracting prospective customers organically by providing some kind of value — like educational content or a like-minded community. Instead of buying attention, with inbound, you earn it. 
  • Also known as: community marketing (more on that below!), content marketing and social media marketing.
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: SEO marketer, email marketer, content marketer, social media manager and Amazon marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: organic site traffic, social media engagement, content downloads and owned audience size.
  • Example of this in action: Steak-umm’s Twitter, which has earned more than 200 thousand followers (and press attention!) for its funny and informative tweets.
  • Skills required to do this well: community management and a strong sense of your target market.
Steak-umm's Twitter account has earned more than 200K followers for its funny, informative tweets — and the team behind the tweets got profiled in The Washington Post.

4. Digital marketing.

  • Definition: Digital marketing means using an online channel, paid or unpaid, to market your products or services. 
  • Also known as: online marketing, internet marketing — or just marketing in 2021. 
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: all of them.
  • Common KPIs for this: blended CAC and lifetime customer value (LTV). 
  • Example of this in action: nearly everything on the internet, from branded SEO content to Pinterest ads, counts as digital marketing.
  • Skills required to do this well: a solid internet connection and enough familiarity with internet culture to recognize some (if not all!) Webby award winners.

5. Pay-per-click marketing.

  • Definition: Pay-per-click marketing means creating, placing and managing pay-per-click ads — typically on Google, but also on Bing, Amazon and other platforms.
  • Also known as: search engine marketing and PPC marketing.
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: paid search marketer and Amazon marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: ROAS, click-through rate, CAC and bounce rate.
  • Example of this in action: every promoted search result, tagged “Ad,” above your organic search results.
  • Skills required to do this well: campaign attribution, incrementality testing and basic copywriting, among other skills.

6. Content marketing.

  • Definition: Content marketing means planning, creating and distributing content — from reported explainers to branded webinars — designed to attract an organic audience. It’s more than writing!
  • Also known as: content strategy, blogging, editing, copywriting and scriptwriting.
  • MarketerHire role that does this: content marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: views and listens, content downloads, keyword ranking, time on site, CTR, bounce rate, shares and backlinks.
  • Example of this in action: this very blog post! Meta.
  • Skills required to do this well: project management, SEO basics and content creation, among other skills.

7. Brand marketing.

  • Definition: Brand marketing means creating a strategic, differentiated identity for an organization, and communicating it to customers at each and every touch point.
  • Also known as: brand management and market research.
  • MarketerHire role that does this: brand marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: This is one of the hardest marketing disciplines to measure, but final deliverables typically include a positioning brief and a brand book.
  • Example of this in action: Burger King’s recent retro rebrand.
  • Skills required to do this well: brand positioning, visual brand management, competitive and SWOT analysis, among other skills.

8. Social media marketing.

  • Definition: Social media marketing means creating, posting to, and building a following for organic brand social accounts.
  • Also known as: social media management and organic social.
  • MarketerHire role that does this: social media manager.
  • Common KPIs for this: follower count, CTR and platform-specific engagement metrics.
  • Example of this in action: Not to be self-absorbed, but uh, MarketerHire’s Instagram. It’s good!
  • Skills required to do this well: creative strategy, social copywriting and community management, among other skills.

9. Growth marketing.

  • Definition: Growth marketing means running strategic tests throughout a company’s funnel — exploring new channels and optimizing old ones — to boost core KPIs, like monthly active users and revenue. 
  • Also known as: demand generation marketing and performance marketing.
  • MarketerHire role that does this: growth marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: ROAS, website conversion rate, and most importantly, top-line revenue.
  • Example of this in action: A growth marketer helped men’s skincare startup Bottlecode repurpose existing creative assets on paid social — and lift order volume 20% MoM for five consecutive months. 
  • Skills required to do this well: conversion rate optimization (CRO), full-funnel strategy and agency management, among other skills.

10. Amazon marketing.

  • Definition: Amazon marketing means managing the full Amazon funnel, from paid ads to logistics and review capture. 
  • Also known as: Amazon consulting and Amazon account management.
  • MarketerHire role that does this: Amazon marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: ROAS, Amazon search rankings and conversion rates on Amazon product pages.
  • Example of this in action: Anyone on page one of an Amazon SERP for something major — like “face wash” or “sneakers” — got there either by buying a sponsored post or using Amazon SEO. Both are Amazon marketing tactics.
  • Skills required to do this well: PPC ad buying, listing management and Amazon SEO, among other skills.

11. Email marketing.

  • Definition: Email marketing means capturing prospects’ and customers’ email addresses, and nurturing them with automations and lifecycle campaigns to boost revenue and LTV. 
  • Also known as: retention marketing, CRM marketing and lifecycle marketing.
  • MarketerHire role that does this: email marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: open rates, conversions, click-through, subscriber growth and repeat purchase rate.
  • Example of this in action: abandoned cart emails — which recover roughly 11% of nearly-lost sales.
  • Skills required to do this well: list segmentation and hygiene, copywriting and A/B testing, among other skills.

12. SEO marketing.

  • Definition: SEO marketing means getting a brand’s website and content to rank for strategic, relevant keywords on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).
  • Also known as: SEO strategy.
  • MarketerHire role that does this: SEO marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: views, keyword ranking, time on site, CTR, bounce rate, shares and backlinks.
  • Example of this in action: When you Google “stratosphere,” The Strat hotel in Las Vegas ranks higher than the Wikipedia entry for the Earth’s stratosphere — a testament to the hotel’s SEO team.
  • Skills required to do this well: keyword research, competitive analysis and link-building strategy, among other skills.
When you Google “stratosphere,” The Strat hotel in Las Vegas ranks higher than the Wikipedia entry for the Earth’s stratosphere — a testament to the hotel’s SEO marketing.

13. Social media advertising.

  • Definition: Social media advertising means strategically buying and optimizing paid ad campaigns on social media platforms.
  • Also known as: performance marketing, paid social, Facebook advertising, TikTok advertising and Snapchat advertising.
  • MarketerHire role that does this: paid social media marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: click-through, conversions, revenue, ROAS, website traffic and leads generated.
  • Example of this in action: Instagram story ads. Fun fact: These now sometimes appear back-to-back!
  • Skills required to do this well: budget allocation, audience segmentation and data analysis, among other skills.

14. Influencer marketing.

  • Definition: Influencer marketing means paying social media creators to promote your product to their followers in their posts.
  • Also known as: ambassador programs.
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: social media manager and growth marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: impressions, follower growth, website traffic, email sign-ups and even revenue — but often, influencer marketing is a branding play.
  • Example of this in action: Weighted blanket company Bearaby launched its (fake) 2021 April Fool’s Day product —  a tiny weighted blanket just for hedgehogs — with the help of two verified hedgehog influencers.
  • Skills required to do this well: project management, creative strategy and experience collaborating with PR teams, among others. 

15. Personalized marketing.

  • Definition: Personalized marketing means pushing customized messaging and suggestions to each of your potential customers. Though this form of marketing is most common in the B2B sector, some business-to-consumer (B2C) retailers do it at scale using first-party data and recommendation algorithms. 
  • Also known as: ABM.
  • MarketerHire role that does this: growth marketer
  • Common KPIs for this: emails captured, lead forms filled out, CTR
  • Example of this in action: Mutiny’s homepage. When we visit, we see a pop-up that says: “Is MarketerHire throwing away money on ads?” (We’re guessing every pop-up is personalized, though there’s always a chance Mutiny is obsessed with us.)
  • Skills required to do this well: audience research and segmentation, light copywriting and data analysis.

16. Guerrilla marketing.

  • Definition: Guerrilla marketing means doing something creative, cheap and impactful to reach prospects. Often, it means leveraging something popular or beloved as a marketing channel for the first time.
  • Also known as: Growth hacking and stealth marketing.
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: none.
  • Common KPIs for this: views, earned media, social follower growth, website traffic and organic search volume — basically, buzz.
  • Example of this in action: Airbnb’s (in)famous Craiglist crossposting hack.
  • Skills required to do this well: creativity, bravery and thinking outside the box.

17. Affiliate marketing.

  • Definition: Affiliate marketing means sharing revenue with affiliates — like shopping guides and podcast hosts — who promote your product and bring in new customers.
  • Also known as: referral programs.
  • MarketerHire role that does this: growth marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: revenue and affiliate code usage.
  • Example of this in action: Amanda Goetz, founder of luxury CBD brand House of Wise, gives her loyal fans a personal affiliate link — and they get a flat percentage of all the sales they drive.
  • Skills required to do this well: project management, brand asset management, networking and affiliate communications.
Amanda Goetz, founder of luxury CBD brand House of Wise, gives her loyal fans a personal affiliate link — and they get a flat percentage of all the sales they drive.

18. Partner marketing.

  • Definition: Partner marketing means collaborating with other companies in mutually beneficial ways — whether to publish a report, launch a new environmental initiative or host a live event.
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: none — this is more the province of PR pros than marketers. 
  • Common KPIs for this: impressions, earned media impressions, site traffic from partner content.
  • Example of this in action: During the 2021 Olympics, Airbnb — a partner of the International Olympics Committee — launched an ad featuring Olympians practicing artistic swim routines at Airbnbs with pools. (It was so delightful, we named it one of the best ads of the pandemic era!)
  • Skills required to do this well: project management, people management, pitch and deck creation and go-to-market capabilities.

19. Product marketing.

  • Definition: Product marketing means collaborating with developers, sales and various marketing functions to develop strategic, in-demand technology — and promote its key differentiators. This is most in-demand at B2B tech companies.  
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: CMO and brand marketer can flex into this role — but we get a lot of applications from product marketers. Maybe it’s our next role!
  • Common KPIs for this: all the KPIs associated with product-market fit — including strong conversion rates throughout the funnel, product usage and LTV.
  • Example of this in action: Product marketing is rarely visible to customers, but any tech company with a strong brand that consistently stays ahead of the competition — like Apple — has strong product marketers to thank.
  • Skills required to do this well: audience research, competitive and SWOT analysis and interdepartmental communications. 

20. Account-based marketing.

  • Definition: Account-based marketing means conducting personalized outreach to a small group of prospective client organizations. This is a B2B tactic. 
  • Also known as: personalized marketing, email marketing, LinkedIn marketing, B2B marketing.
  • MarketerHire role that does this: growth marketer
  • Common KPIs for this: CTR, form fills and qualified leads.
  • Example of this in action: any cold outreach you receive on LinkedIn pitching a relevant product you’d actually like to add to your department’s budget. 
  • Skills required to do this well: familiarity with common ABM tools — like paid LinkedIn — and past B2B marketing experience.

21. Retention marketing.

  • Definition: Retention marketing means marketing to customers who’ve already bought from you across a variety of channels. This encompasses email marketing, loyalty programs and branded communities. 
  • Also known as: email marketing, SMS marketing, in-app marketing, lifecycle marketing and direct mail.
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: email marketer and growth marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: LTV, repeat purchases.
  • Example of this in action: Starbucks’s popular spend-based loyalty program — the number of program members rose 13% when it launched in 2019. (Before that, Starbucks based rewards on the number of items bought, not money spent.)
  • Skills required to do this well: data analysis, email marketing — including email template and nurture stream building — and UGC strategy.
Membership in Starbucks' loyalty program rose 13% when the company launched spend-based rewards in 2019. (Before that, Starbucks based rewards on the number of items bought.) That's smart retention marketing in action!

22. Word-of-mouth marketing.

  • Definition: Word-of-mouth marketing means, essentially, getting people to talk about you for free — ideally in a positive way.
  • Also known as: viral marketing and relationship marketing.
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: social media manager, growth marketer and brand marketer
  • Common KPIs for this: referrals, organic traffic and social views and mentions.
  • Example of this in action: HBO’s integration test email, an accidental mass send that sparked a million jokes — and then an encouraging Twitter trend where people shared slip-ups from their intern days. Even Monica Lewinsky hopped on board.
  • Skills required to do this well: creativity, audience research and development, and go-to-market execution capabilities.

23. Event marketing.

  • Definition: Event marketing means two things: promoting branded events and promoting a product at an unbranded event.  
  • Also known as: trade show marketing and conference marketing.
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: none — though the paid social media marketer, email marketer and content marketer roles can all support events marketers.
  • Common KPIs for this: RSVPs, attendees, email contacts and leads.
  • Example of this in action: Dreamforce, Salesforce’s star-studded annual conference. (On this year’s speaker list: Will Smith and Jane Fonda!)
  • Skills required to do this well: event planning, face-to-face networking and project management expertise.

24. International marketing.

  • Definition: International marketing means building a global marketing strategy that ensures a cohesive brand across continents, but also allows for campaigns and messaging tailored to local culture. 
  • Also known as: global brand marketing
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: none specialize in this — but all can contribute to the North American piece of a global strategy.
  • Common KPIs for this: every KPI under the sun; it just depends on the campaign.
  • Example of this in action: McDonald’s international web of verified Twitter accounts — including accounts for the UK, India and the Philippines — that coordinate on global launches, like the BTS meal.
  • Skills required to do this well: marketing strategy across all channels and disciplines, people and project management, go-to-market strategy and audience research and development.

25. Local marketing.

  • Definition: Local marketing means promoting shops and services  relevant to people in a specific place — from restaurants and small businesses to car washes and dentists’ offices.
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: all of them.
  • Common KPIs for this: foot traffic and sales.
  • Example of this in action: the grocery store coupon inserts in the Sunday editions of local papers. 
  • Skills required to do this well: It depends on the strategy and campaign.

26. Community marketing. 

  • Definition: Community marketing means growing, moderating and managing a hub — where it’s an organic social channel or a private Slack — where customers connect with your brand and each other. 
  • Also known as: community management.
  • MarketerHire role that does this: social media manager.
  • Common KPIs for this: community growth, engagement and, in the long-term, LTV.
  • Example of this in action: Savage X Fenty’s social media channels, where fans of the brand (and Rihanna) connect in each post’s comments. “They’re having conversations with each other,” Browned 2 Perfection founder Junae Brown told MarketerHire. “They’re telling jokes. They’re adding memes.” 
  • Skills required to do this well: creative strategy, short-form copywriting and content moderation, among others. 
On Savage X Fenty’s social  channels,  fans of the brand (and Rihanna) connect in each post’s comments. “They’re having conversations with each other,” Browned 2 Perfection founder Junae Brown told MarketerHire. “They’re telling jokes. They’re adding memes.” 

27. Direct marketing.

  • Definition: Direct marketing means promoting your product directly, through owned channels where you don’t pay per view or click — like email and SMS.
  • Also known as: email marketing, direct mail and CRM marketing.
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: email marketer and growth marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: discount code usage, repeat purchases and LTV.
  • Example of this in action: getting a postcard with a coupon code on it. Check your mailbox — it still happens!
  • Skills required to do this well: copywriting and email marketing skills — including strategy, template and nurture stream building, and email performance analysis.

28. SMS marketing.

  • Definition: SMS marketing means capturing prospects’ and customers’ phone numbers, and nurturing them with text-based automations and lifecycle campaigns — with their explicit consent, of course. 
  • Also known as: text message marketing.
  • MarketerHire role that does this: email marketer.
  • Common KPIs for this: revenue, list growth, opens, click-through rate and win-back rates for abandoned carts.
  • Example of this in action: a text message announcing a new product launch. 
  • Skills required to do this well: contact list segmentation and hygiene, conversational short-form copywriting and more. 

29. E-commerce marketing.

  • Definition: E-commerce marketing means promoting a product that can be purchased online, through any and all channels.
  • Also known as: ecommerce marketing, eCommerce marketing, and Ecommerce marketing. No one knows how to spell this one! 
  • MarketerHire roles that do this: all of them
  • Common KPIs for this: every KPI imaginable; it depends on the campaign.
  • Example of this in action: Melissa Urban’s Whole30, best known for its namesake nutritional program, started selling DTC salad dressings in 2021 — and thanks to a smart paid digital strategy, it blew past its sales goals.
  • Skills required to do this well: previous e-commerce marketing experience, performance marketing experience — especially with Facebook Ads — and more. 
Melissa Urban’s Whole30, best known for its namesake nutritional program, started selling DTC salad dressings in 2021 — and thanks to a smart paid digital strategy, it blew past its sales goals.

How to execute the type of marketing you need

If you’re realizing your team doesn’t have the skills to execute the type of marketing you need, you’re not alone.

Marketing moves fast, and it’s accelerating. In the past 20 years, we’ve seen at least twice as many new marketing channels as we saw in the whole twentieth century.

MarketerHire keeps up, though — and we can help. 

Our vetted freelancers can’t do everything, but they can do a lot. Of the 29 types of marketing on this list, they can tackle 25, and support the rest. 

We can fill the gaps in your team, and help you prove the value of new full-time roles. Try us today.

Mae Rice
about the author

Mae Rice is senior editor at MarketerHire. A long-time content marketer, she enjoys interviewing marketing experts and learning about the weird and wonderful feedback loops that connect marketing and culture. She also loves any ad that makes her say "Huh?!" — especially Tim and Eric's ad for Totino's pizza rolls, which she watches way more often than you would think.

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